This is the true problem of people who suffer from indecision: they don't know what they care about. They don't know what matters to them. They haven't found something larger than themselves to commit themselves to. Find your cause, find your values, discover the costs and benefits of your actions, and taking action becomes infinitely more simple.
Thoreau said, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."
The primary regret of those at the end of their life is this: "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me." Source.
There are evolutionary reasons why our modern world is mismatched and why the masses living in a modern society live lives of quiet desperation. Check out The Ancestral Mind.com to learn more about that.
Today, I'm going to focus on helping you understand what personal principles are and how creating them is the key to everything. Remember that refining your principles will take time, so don't expect any of this to come to fruition overnight.
The reason for this is simple: most people do not spend their time on purpose.
Few consider how the time they spend is connected—or not connected—to the future they want. Heck, most people haven't even considered the future they want beyond vague ideas of success, family, or having a big big house.
Let's try to get some of the principles down first:
Let's unpack these a bit so you can get an idea of the next steps for building your principles for life.
It is depressing that most people spend their lives bouncing from one thing they don't want to do to another. Their lives are mostly built upon the expectations of others.
This is what society does; it indoctrinates you to follow the rules, pay your taxes, don't cause a ruckus, join the herd, be a sheep.
Most of us realize this later in life after we've already been subjugated to the modern school system and/or "higher education," all of which have created terrible thought patterns that we now have to unlearn and overcome.
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The primary human drive that no one talks about is autonomy. Humans are designed for living in equal societies, which is why we resist others telling us what to do.
In our modern society, we pursue money, fame, and power because we think it will give us happiness. It never works.
What you are really after is autonomy: the ability to do what you want, when you want, and without the burden of external expectation.
This is true freedom, and it should be the American Dream. Of course, it's not because it's hard to monetize.
When you are truly free, you don't need designer junk, and you definitely don't spend money on stupid things in a pathetic attempt at impressing others because you no longer give a lick about what other people think.
You live for yourself. And this is the ultimate freedom.
When goal-setting, first figure out how to get autonomy. When you realize that autonomy is what you're really after, you'll conclude that you don't need riches to achieve it. When you realize this, your future path comes into perfect focus. It is quite liberating.
I see this in relationships all the time: the constant tit for tat built upon exactions or pleasing your partner.
The idea of saying, "My wife is mad at me," shows such a fatal flaw in the relationship paradigm that were I a betting man, I'd bet against the survival of that relationship.
The reason is simple: that is not a relationship built on an unconditional framework but rather a conditional framework.
The conditions that modern relationships (and monogamy) place upon humans is not sustainable by any measure, which is why most people cheat, most marriages end in divorce, and fewer are now getting married in the first place.
When it comes to male and female relationships, if partners were honest and developed standards for their relationships rather than defaulting to what society says is normal, there would be far more happy individuals and successful long term relationships.
The modern "normal" relationship illustrates this point in two ways.
First, the idea that you own someone or their behavior because you are in a relationship is an egotistical absurdity that society has drilled into the masses. This is why partners so often default to guilt, shame, and other forms of psychological manipulation to coerce their partner into acting a certain way. The relationship becomes a power struggle, and thus, will eventually corrupt because it is unnatural to our human nature.
Second, the rules for how you are supposed to engage in romantic relationships is adopted by what society says. This is the path that 99.99999% of people take and why you there are so many failed relationships and even more joy-less relationships that stay together to maintain a nonsensical status quo.
Isn't it amazing how people will suffer just to avoid the thoughts of others? When you break it down, it is depressing how much human suffering endures at the hands of something that is utterly meaningless and easily preventable.
If you live your life based on what others do or say, you'll end up following the same destructive path as the majority. The majority of people, as Emerson said, live lives of quiet desperation through their needless suffering as they try in vain to fit their wants, desires, fears, and proclivities into a neat little box labeled "appropriate" by the society.
This social pressure can be found in everything, from relationships to money, investing, vacations, homeownership, college, debt, credit cards, food, nutrition, drinking, drugs, etc.
How will you achieve a better life is you don't map out exactly what a "better life" is?
Most people form their ideas for a successful life from trends and adopting vague ideas of what "success" is from pop culture. There are massive social, familial, and societal pressures to follow specific life paths. These paths usually end in ruin. My work is centered around saving as many as possible from this trap.
Become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, get a safe job, buy a house with a two-car garage, have kids (after getting married), and so on.
Corporate inventions of "success" have infiltrated our culture and end up leading millions to follow paths that leave them scratching their head, wondering why they still feel so hollow after getting there. It is a damn shame.
This is why doing the work outlined in this article is so important: because if you don't map out exactly what you want for your life, someone else will. When someone else does that, you're going to suffer. I promise you; you will hurt.
To set goals, become crystal clear about what you want. Make sure you remember that what you primarily want is autonomy. This should be the primary focus for all of us because once you reach autonomy, you can decide where to go from there. Autonomy and freedom are your foundation.
People say, "I want to be a doctor."
So they spend the 20+ years of their life in school then go into massive debt so that they can spend the next 30 years of their adult life being an on-call time and debt slave while the medical system works them to the bone. At least they can go on fancy vacations and drive a BMW, right?
It's so depressing that this is considered noble in our culture. It shows just how ass-backward our society is.
DO NOT BE A SHEEP.
As you can guess by now, I'm not a fan of following others blindly.
Blindly is the keyword; you should learn from others living the life you want to pick up cues and motivation. The difference is picking and choosing and forming your value system for yourself rather than defaulting to a rote life path set by society.
Most people let others plan their life for them. Sometimes they do it consciously and sometimes subconsciously as a result of years of conditioning. In either case, it is someone else choosing their life for them.
The key is to define your values so you can build your life on top of that foundation.
For example, I'll use myself as an example to give you an idea of how to think about this:
I don't waste money on signaling things to try to impress people. Because of that, I'll reach my goal much faster. When I do, my lifestyle will be 100% self-sufficient, and I'll have 100% control over my time and destiny. I'll have 100% autonomy.
At this point, I will still work, but only on what I want to work on (like writing this article and recording the corresponding youtube and podcast.)
This will also grant me security that comes from owning hard assets as well as income-producing assets like real estate, dividend stocks, and businesses.
I will make sure I have income left over each month to reinvest to increase my wealth and security.
I will work around five hours a day and spend the rest of the time with friends, family, reading, thinking, moving, cooking, and enjoying great food, and being in nature.
No one will tell me what to do. Ever.
This life plan on top of my life principles:
I have been thinking about and refining these principles for years, so doing the hard work to get there is easy. All I have to do is keep going.
The secret to living a successful life is building a life based on values.
Motivation is a myth. You can't motivate yourself to build a great life.
This is the secret that the self-help and get rich gurus never talk about. They sell you information on tools and how-to, which is mostly useless for individuals that lack a foundational value system for life.
Everything is built on top of your foundation.
If you want an amazing life, you must work from the ground up.
Build your principles, find your why, then connect your daily actions to getting there. Over time, you will get there.
You'll be free. Autonomous. Fulfilled. Abundant.